While the pop-and-R&B-obsessed mainstream and social media twittered pointlessly about Taylor Swift and Adele’s vocal gaffes — one due to allegedly missing a note and the other due to a dropped mic — the rest of the indie world enjoyed a handful of profound live performances by some amazing, pure artists at the 2016 Grammy Awards last Monday.
Country rocker Chris Stapleton (Southern Family) did justice to a moving B.B. King tribute, along with Gary Clark Jr. and Bonnie Raitt. The trio simply blew everyone else out of the water with gritty, bluesy pipes and guitars crackling for days. In the less-is-more category, their tribute far out-trumped Lady Gaga’s Hollywood production in service of another passing star, David Bowie.
Stapleton both respected and uplifted the late blues legend’s monster hit, “The Thrill Is Gone,” in his opener, as Clark and Raitt joined in, sharing their own unique histories in deeply weathered, deeply wonderful vocals. Stapleton’s own perfectly ripped voice recalled the legendary Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
Before he took the stage with Clark, Raitt, and B.B. King’s guitar (sitting in on the jam), Stapleton won two Grammys for his album, Traveller. Earlier, when given the choice to perform a song from his award-winning country album, or a B.B. King tune, the humble guitarist, singer-songwriter from Lexington, Ky. went with the tribute to a hero of his. He said he’d always dug playing the blues. He also dug the idea of Bonnie Raitt playing with them, and there you go.
Another Grammy-winning artist, Alabama Shakes, also shook Staple Center Feb. 15 with an unforgettable rockin’ blues and soul performance. Relatively new to the big-time music scene, Alabama Shakes is truly a genre-defying, multi-cultural band fronted by a half-black/half-white Southern woman with the voice of a prophet and the guitar licks of a rock god.
Brittany Howard, bassist Zac Cockrell, guitarist Heath Fogg, drummer Steve Johnson, (and touring keyboardists Ben Tanner and Paul Horton) won four Grammys for their follow-up to the acclaimed, 2012 debut album, Boys & Girls. That debut album originally started off without a label — until the people got a hold of it and worldwide attention netted the band a record deal with ATO Records, which officially released it in 2012. Boys & Girls earned three Grammy nominations on the buzz of the breakout single, “Hold On.”
The follow-up, Sound & Color, shot up to #1 on Billboard 200, blew critics away, endeared Alabama Shakes to fans even more, and oh, grabbed four Grammys, including “Best Alternative Music Album” and “Best Rock Song” for “Don’t Wanna Fight.”